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Tea Party vs. GOP? NY 17th Rivalry Becomes Physical

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A New York State Tea Party leader is claiming that the Chairman of the Rockland County Republican Committee physically assaulted him and threatened him by asking if he knew what a Bronx Beating is. (For those that don't know, a "Bronx Beating" is an assault with baseball bats). This ugly incident, whether it happened or just exists in the imagination of Tea Party blogger and campaign manager Bob Fois, underscores how the rivalry between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment is growing nastier by the day and may explode sometime soon.

A little background: Vincent "Vinnie" Reda is the New York GOP's First Vice Chair and also runs the Republican machine in the bellwether NY suburb of Rockland County. An "establishment" Republican, Reda hasn't played well with the tea partiers in recent weeks. Members of "Rally for America," the local Tea Party organization and Fois' Tea Party site NewsCopy New York are saying that their preferred congressional candidate to face the long time encumbent Democrat Eliot Engel in New York's 17th District, Tony Mele', has been passed over by the party in favor of another candidate, York Kleinhandler, although they're sure Mele' is the stronger candidate.

So unhappy are the Tea Partiers that they've started a scorched-earth campaign against Rockland Republican Chairman Vincent Reda and endorsed Kleinhandler. The NewsCopy site, run by Fois, has
complained that Reda has used strong arm tactics to stop Mele' from running for Congress. The website has pulled the race card out against the regional Republican leader, claiming that Mele' may have been bypassed as a candidate because he is half Puerto Rican. The infighting continues on the pages of NewsCopy and Urban Elephants as Fois now claims that Reda assaulted him:
According to Fois, Reda was upset that Fois alleged on his blog he had lied "about the Conservative Party and that his county convention -- run without proxies and strong-armed every wretched step of the way -- was setup to bypass Republican Tony Mele' over York Kleinhandler." Fois claims Reda tapped on his shoulder, shoved him against the wall, and asked him if he knew what a "Bronx beating" is. Fois isn't saying if he is going to press charges.
Fois and Reda then began arguing over the past military service of the rival candidates:
Reda has also questioned Mele''s military record, without proof, yet has not provided any accountable documentation on Kleinhandler's own military status. Finally, Reda kept insisting that Mele' has never met with RNC Chair Michael Steele though multiple photos show Mele' has met twice with the Republican leader. The RNC has a favorable interest in Mele''s candidacy, since it make sense that a Bronx native now living in Rockland who is a veteran and a Tea Party member would be a natural fit for the 17th.
Fois continues by taking potshots at the GOP, digging up dirt about a Federal Lawusit against Kleinhandler and his brother David, that Fois says is "for predatory business practices against senior citizens."
The paperwork on this lawsuit against Kleinhandler was just filed on Friday, though points of the case go back to 2007. One highly placed political operative in the judicial community described it as "just a business lawsuit" though one wonders why this was missed in the vetting.
A departure from the usual lockstep rhythms of local Republicans, we wonder if use of the one-year old verb "scozzafavaing" will be on the rise here in the Lower Hudson valley.

 

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A progressive man from South Nyack, NY.

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